Contributed by Marialejandra Chuy Silva, Local Communications & Community Coordinator and CSR & Activities Coordinator at ILSC-New York
“Every day is a perfect day to learn something new, embrace it!”
Have you ever walked around wondering why you spend so much time trying to improve your English skills, but you haven’t been able to do so? As a former ESL student I struggled with the same issue during my first month in the USA. Nevertheless, I found a secret that, although simple, is the key to your success!
Learning English depends more on you than anybody else. If you are studying at ILSC, you have the best teachers in the world, but if you don’t give everything, you won’t be able to improve it at the pace you would like to.
I came to the States with a friend of mine. Both of us spoke Spanish. We understood the huge effort of coming to a different country to learn another language, so we decided to speak English and English only. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t easy at all, but in time we gained more vocabulary and fluency.
We did the same with our friends and teachers. One thing is for sure, you’ll find many people who speak your language. Trying to speak in English doesn’t mean that you’ll have to stop speaking to your fellow nationals, but it means that you’ll have to speak to them in English. They will improve, you will improve and your experience will become unforgettable: everybody wins!
Today, my friend is working in Colombia in a bilingual environment, and me? I am part of the ILSC family in New York and I spend my days speaking in English and reminding students that they should be doing the same. I invest a lot of time listening to people, reading the news and books, and watching TV shows (How I met Your Mother and Game of Thrones are two of my favorites); every day is a perfect day to learn something new, embrace it!
My advice for you is: if you’re feeling overwhelmed or if you have friends from the same country, always speak in English. When you visit new places such as museums, try to talk to the workers, ask them questions regarding the exhibitions. Even if you make mistakes, they will be kind enough to you.
You can also watch movies or TV shows, read books, and listen to music. I remember the first book I read as an ILSC student in San Francisco, Blind Fall by Christopher Rice. To be honest with you, I didn’t understand 60% of the plot. Regardless of my lack of vocabulary at the time, reading that book helped me to improve my reading skills. When I didn’t know how to pronounce a word, I went to my teachers and they always helped me.
Speaking in English is a commitment, don’t take it for granted. Trust me, you won’t regret your effort!